"New California law aims to cultivate urban agriculture
A new law promoting community gardens and small farms lets municipalities lower property taxes on plots of 3 acres or less if owners dedicate them to growing food for at least 5 years.
By Lee Romney
SAN FRANCISCO — Sandwiched between rows of homes in the fog-kissed Mission Terrace neighborhood, Little City Gardens provides salad greens and fresh-cut flowers to local restaurants from what was once a weedy vacant lot.
Like many of California’s urban agriculture practitioners, however, Caitlyn Galloway is plagued by a key uncertainty: She is on a month-to-month lease with a landlord who must recoup the lot’s steep property taxes and may soon sell or develop.
Now, California cities and counties eager to encourage community gardens and small-scale farms in urban pockets have a novel tool at their disposal that could help solve Galloway’s problem. Legislation recently signed by Gov.Jerry Brown will allow municipalities to lower the assessed value — and property taxes — on plots of three acres or less if owners pledge to dedicate them to growing food for at least five years.
"As urban farmers one of the biggest obstacles we’ve faced is land tenure," said Galloway, 32. "It’s a huge step for urban agriculture."
Photo: (Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times